End of December in Leningrad, 1983, minus 15 degrees Celsius (they said it was the coldest winter since '44, but perhaps they always say that about cold winters there), walking east on Nevsky Prospekt in late afternoon haze, a man came toward me. He looked like a Tatar and wore a long, fur-trimmed leather jacket and a sheepskin hat, earflaps akimbo. Reminded me of some Indian trappers getting off a train and strapping on snowshoes in the middle of the forest in western Ontario. For a second, which I have never forgotten, among the Leningraders, dressed like Buffalonians, the Steppes stepped through the veil of this sad, corrupted West dissolving in the lime-sprinkled open graves of its hatreds, greed, still denying the question after all these years. Yet, in some miserably over-crowded apartment out of Zoshchenko's stories or in some transparent enclosure from Zamyatin's, a few babies will always be born, stubborn little babies that will never be able to forget how to listen before speaking all their lives; stubborn babies that will not speak in order to dominate or submit, but to ask questions.Read More »
It is late September and we were talking over coffee this morning about the San Joaquin Valley water situation the way valley residents will do when fire fighters on the King Fire above Placerville are worried about flash floods and all we see is vague overcast composed of many substances as well as some water vapor. Mothers wearing winterish jackets are taking their children, also in jackets, to school.Read More »
The Nature Conservancy “has just lost its moral compass,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that works extensively on endangered species. “The very idea of oil drilling inside a reserve is utterly wrong, and it’s especially disturbing in this case because the Attwater’s prairie chicken is one of the most endangered species in the entire country. It could very well be the next species to go extinct in the United States.” -- Justin Gillis, New York Times, Aug. 3, 2014
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We have noticed that one of the darker, more cunning tools of American politicians is regulation. Regulation can be a beautiful thing for a politician. Say, for example, a US senator writes a resolute and righteous environmental regulation suited exactly to the specifications laid out by expert scientists in the field covered by this particular draft regulation. Let us suppose that the draft is enthusiastically supported in a rare show of unity by all the environmental groups of any possible danger to our politician. Let us say that business opponents of the draft skip load tons of cash on the front lawn of one of her vacation homes in hopes of dissuading her from sponsoring this dreadful abuse of democracy and the American Way of Life. Yet, after all the public processes are duly followed and completed, suppose the new regulation, like a little salmon smolt in the Delta, is sucked up into a huge pump and disappears.Read More »
One rainy day, sitting in a shed in an orchard, an old grower talked about pesticides.
"DDT?" he said. "Best pesticide in the world. Killed everything. Apply it every 28 days or after a rain and we got cleaner fruit than we'd ever seen. It started just after the war (WWII). You didn't have to set vinegar traps to see what kind of bugs you had in the orchard anymore. DDT killed EVERYTHING! So the younger generation of growers didn't have to learn anything about bugs because they didn't have to figure out what spray to use -- copper, arsenic, whatever. But DDT got Rachel Carsoned in the Sixties. That book, Silent Spring, started the environmental movement. Now they're trying to claim every frog, toad and minnow in the county is endangered, and they're winning. But she was right: DDT raised hell with the environment, thinned egg shells, caused cancer, poisoned fresh water and the ocean. But it wasn't as bad on bees and what replaced it.
How do you deal with the moral authority of ignorance? James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending (2006), p. 473
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Gov. Jerry Brown must be saved from himself, says the next state Senate leader. He needs to be talked out of starting the bullet train in the Central Valley boonies. "I don't think it makes sense to lay down track in the middle of nowhere," asserts Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). It's illogical. No one lives there in the tumbleweeds." -- George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2914, "Next Senate leader Kevin de Leon wants Brown to rethink bullet train."
But lawns very much remain the norm in Southern California, and officials say it's tougher to change homeowners' outdoor watering habits than it is to get them to install low-flow toilets or water-efficient washing machines.
The greatest threat to political democracy -- from Athens to the US "war on terrorism," -- has always been elites. Since the 18th century, democracy has arisen in step with its competition and nemesis, capitalism. Today's American elite has converted political bribery and lies into "campaign finance contributions" -- the "free speech" of money -- "spin," the political descendant of advertising. However, bribery and deceit remain what they are, fatal to democracy.
Today, we offer two comments on lying, spin and propaganda, the first from politician scientist Sheldon Wolin, the second from investigative reporter Robert Parry. Both are veterans and have personal as well as scholarly perspective on the changing forms of political lying in our culture. Wolin describes the structure of the culture that is producing systemic political lying in America today. Parry paints a portrait of a practitioner of the form, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Perhaps viewers of "Morning Joe" will remember "Rick" when he was a top Time Magazine editor presenting the Time cover of the week. Butter doesn't melt in Stengel's mouth. -- bljRead More »
We in the Valley, where much of the vaunted Monterey Shale Formation fracking was to occur, fistfulls of money and many jobs and national energy independence were to be squeezed out of the earth by miracles of drilling technology leaving air and water pollution behind, are grateful to Dylan and Jo Murphy for this excellent summary of the government and corporate corruption behind the rapid rise and fall of the California fracking boom.Read More »
These are stories, "narratives" as our elite educated government flaks and the cowards in the mainstream press call them, have become propaganda lines, whole processes of deception, some older than others, but all following a pattern of contempt for the public, which, according to the General Lie, they are supposed "to serve."
Read at your own risk. You won't enjoy these articles but they come from reputable sources: Paul Craig Roberts, Ray McGovern, and writers published by Counterpunch and Global Research (Canada). -- blj
Fake Employment Statistics: More Phantom Jobs Created in America, All In The Wrong PlacesRead More »
On Tuesday, the Merced Board of Supervisors debated long and hard -- with help from legal, planning and executive staff -- about how they could stop Steve Sloan, former chairman of the county Planning Commission, and an adjoining landowner, from selling more than 20,000 acre feet of groundwater to Del Puerto Water District, based in Stanislaus County. County leaders, except Supervisor Gerry O'Banion, in whose district the transfer would take place, with a mixture of desperation and exaspiration, reached for some means of stopping Sloan and his neighbor from making the millions the desperate Del Puerto growers are willing to pay to keep their almond orchards alive. Everything from an emergency moratorium to doing nothing was discussedRead More »